tv U.S. Senate CSPAN July 15, 2013 5:00pm-8:01pm EDT
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: madam president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: thank you, madam president. i rise -- i should ask consent first to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: thank you very much. i rise this afternoon to talk about one of the aspects of the
debate that's occurring -- has taken place over a long period of time now but especially today when it comes to senate rules and what's happening on nominations and confirmations. one major aspect of that debate relates to the national labor relations act, and that passed in the 1930's, and i wanted to start today by highlighting what one of the findings was that undergird one of the foundations of that act. in the mid 1930's because of the -- because of labor strife and because of the conflicts between management and labor, people in both parties came together and said we had to put in place legislation to deal with that. or we couldn't have the kind of growing economy that we would hope to have. one of the findings, it's the third finding in the 1935 act, says as follows, "experience
has proved that protection by law of the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively safeguards commerce , safeguards commerce, i repeat those words -- and it safeguards commerce from the following: injury, impairment, or interruption and promotes the flow of commerce by removing certain recognized sources of industrial strife and unrest by encouraging practices fundamental to the friendly adjustment of industrial disputes arising out of differences as to wages, hours, or other working conditions and by restoring equality of bargaining power between employers and employees." unquote. so says the -- one of the main findings of the 195 at.
there's an additional finding that speaks it to from the employers' vantage point, how it's important to the free flow of commerce to have disputes settled. that's where we started in the 1930's, and from that day forward, decades now, of work and practice, you've had labor-management disputes settled and determined by use of the procedures in the national labor relations act. obviously, fundamental to that was the national labor relations his, board, the nlrb. so says the acronym. here we are and just as of a number of weeks from now in august we will not have a functioning board because of the conflict here in the senate about this issue and because of the debate between intrasession appointments and intercession, meaning appointments within a session of the senate as opposed to an appointment outside from
one session to the other. i'll talk about that in a moment, but i wanted to highlight one of the real-world consequences of this. stiems stims we have a lot of debates and they tend to be threat cal, a little removed from the reality of life. here's a real-life story of how these appointments matter. marcus hedger. marcus hedger was illegally fired in 2010 from his pressman's job at an illinois printing company for his union activities. last september, a unanimous national labor relations board, two democrats, one republican, at the time, ruled that he should get his job back with back pay. aren't many disputes settled here that are unanimous. but that hasn't happened yet. that's 2010. the nlrb decision in hedger's case has been vacated because of a court of appeals decision regarding as i mentioned before, these recess
appointments. and hedger has lost his house in the meantime. here's what marcus hedger said and i think we should all listen and act upon these words. and i'm quoting him now, "so almost three years later, i still don't have my job back, even though the national labor relations board unanimously ruled that i should get my job back. i'm asking the united states senate to do what's right for the people who gave you the power to represent them and to confirm the bipartisan 357b8g of -- package of nominees to the nlrb so other workers can have their rights protected just like the nlrb tried to protect my rights"-- unquote. my rights meaning the rights of mr. hedger. that's what he's telling us to do, to do our jobs. now, don't have time today because of the limitations of time that i have here, but there are stories as well that speak to this from the
employer's side. this is one headline involving wal-mart. wal-mart. headline reading earlier this year, a roiter's headline -- reuter's hoin, headline, will stop picturing after -- picketing after nlrb ruling. so you have a board that's helped to solve disputes, sometimes to the betterment or the advantage really of one side versus the other, but settling those disputes nonetheless. there's a lot of attention paid to the -- what i would call kind of the inside baseball of this. it's about the difference between intrasession and intercession. but here's the record. here's the record. despite what some in washington have asserted. here's the record going back over many presidencies. just to give you four
presidencies by way of example. this idea that you cannot make an appointment during an intrasession within the session session, within the session of the senate. president carter made an intrasession appointment to the national labor relations board. president reagan made four. okay. president clinton made two, president george w. bush made four. four intrasession appointments to the national labor relations board p. and since president reagan's first term, more than a generation ago, since president reagan's first term in digs to the appointments made to the board, the nlrb, hundreds, hundreds of other recess appointments have been made, so-called intrasession. okay, so the idea that this is somehow a new development really does not bear the scrutiny of
the record. so i know we're out of time but i rise today to remind us what this board has meant to this country, and i read that first section principally to highlight the fact that you mentioned -- mentioned twice there the flow of commerce. this isn't an act that says this act is to promote one side versus the other. it's all about the flow of commerce, the movement of goods, economic activity so we can keep the country moving. obviously, in the past when there was -- when there was unprecedented strife, you would have whole lines of production or whole sectors of our economy shut down because we didn't have a national labor relations act and we didn't have a national labor relations board. so i end with this, i end with the words of marcus hedger who has 1u6rd mightily. first he's discriminated against, that's adverse to his life and family.
then when a decision is made in 2010, the decision is meaningless so far to him because he hasn't been granted the remedy and he lost his house in the meantime. here is what he said and i'll end with these words. "companies shouldn't be able to get away with firing someone just because they stood up for their rights. that's un-american. we need a functioning national labor relations board to protect us and our rights"-- unquote. that's what marcus hedger said, we should bear in mind those words, get the job done, get five people who are before the senate voted on and confirmed so we can have that free flow of commerce and provide a remedy for people like marcus hedger. i would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. a senator: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. scott: i rise to honor the memory of nine families lost in. the families were vacationing in alaska when the small plane they were flying in crashed on takeoff. millet and kim raised three beautiful children, olivia, mills and anna. they were close friends with dr. chris and stacy mcmahonnis and their children megan and connor. the loss left the upstate grieving including the congregation of christ church episcopal where more than 1,200 people attended a memorial service last friday. when you talk to folks in
greenville about the families, a few words come up over and over again: faith, character, kindness. despite the heartbreak we feel, the greenville community can hopefully take solace that these nine friends, nine neighbors, nine brothers and sisters in christ are now in a better place. we remember them not for the tragic way they died but for the joy and compassion with which they lived. thank you, madam president. madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the
the presiding officer: the senator from maine. mr. king: who is in charge -- the presiding officer: senator, we are in a quorum call. mr. king: sorry. i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. king: and i ask unanimous consent that i speak for less than ten minutes in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. king: who is in charge of the clatterring chain, the axles creek and a coupling strain and the paces hot and the points are near and sleep have deadened the driver's ear and the signals flash through the night in vain for death is in charge of clatterring train. it's a poem from the 1930's quoted by winston churchill in his book "the gathering storm." madam president, i rise today in the wake of a terrible tragedy of a clattering train where death was in charge, one that left more than 60 people missing, 20 confirmed dead and
has devastated a community. but despite the magnitude of this amazing loss, it's also a story of human heroism at its highest level. i'm referring, madam president, to a horrific accident that occurred early last saturday morning when a 72-car train carrying crude oil derailed in lack maganta, quebec, near the border of western maine. as the train erupted into all-engulfing flames it came crashing into the town demolishing everything in its path. cars and buildings were instantly incinerated. pavement on the roads literally melted away and sidewalks crumbled from the intense heat and pressure. as a result, nearly a full six city blocks were completely leveled, forcing almost 2,000
residents to flee their homes. a third of lac maganta's total population. madam president, while local canadian firefighters battled the flames valiantly -- and i mean valiantly -- it became clear that they desperately needed support. so after receiving a call at 4:00 a.m., 30 firefighters from rangely, farmington, phillips, strong, new vineyard and chesterville, all wonderful, small maine towns, as well as the town of eustis, arose from their sleep, rushed to their engines and drove 83 miles nonstop arriving at 6:00 a.m. to help extinguish this horrendous blaze. and it's worth noting, madam president, that except for the chief, every fire fighter who made this journey and put their lives at risk, every
single one that morning was a volunteer, serving and risking their lives of their own choice and volume hreugs. and upon -- volition. upon arrival, their efforts had immediate impact. they quickly realized there was a desperate need for water and because the town lacked a hydrant system they turned their attention to a lake 3,000 feet away and began to pump water using an extraction skill that maine firefighters are specifically taught and trained to use. they continued to pump water from that lake for 21 straight hours. mr. president, let's put that in perspective for a moment. for almost the entire next day those brave men and women, driven by an incredible spirit of perseverance and self-sacrifice, worked tirelessly to extinguish the blaze and gain control of the burning train cars.
fire chief timothy pelleran of rangely station said everyone was hugging and cheering to celebrate their miraculous success when the fire was brought under control. it was like a ball team after a win, he said. and the canadians overwhelmed by the selflessness and courageousness of those volunteer americans, thanked them for their steadfast determination to see the crisis through. residents of lac maganic and local fire men were coming up to one of the rangely fire trucks asking to have their picture taken with the american flag attached to the safety bar and pausing to touch it as a sign of their respect and gratitude. after returning home late sunday afternoon, chief pelleran said he has never been more proud to be from maine or from america and to be a firefighter. we still don't know the full scope of the devastation wreaked
by this gruesome event. the cleanup and recovery costs will undoubtedly be astronomical as well as the traumatic impact on the community upon which no dollar estimate can be placed. initial reports indicate that at least up to 1.2 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the streets, basements of houses, storm drains and contaminated that nearby lake. currently over 200 criminal investigators are sifting through the charred remains of what might be north america's worst railway disaster. and i sincerely hope that through their efforts we will be able to better understand the causes of this horrible tragedy and perhaps, more importantly, how it can be prevented in the future. but, madam president, my real reason for rising today is to honor those volunteer firefighters from maine. true american heroes who embody the best this country has to
offer. they were called into action by their unwavering sense of civic duty. and throughout the night they overcame tremendous odds, including a language barrier and a lack of resources, to finally help extinguish the fire early sunday morning. these brave mainers showed true strength of character, strength of character that enabled them to overcome fear in pursuit of the greater good. it is without a doubt that their actions saved countless lives, and we owe these american heroes our enduring gratitude. my thoughts and prayers remain today with those who were impacted by this tragic event. to go back to the words that churchill quoted so long ago, "who is in charge of the clattering train? the axles creek and the coupling strain and the pace is hot and the points are near, and sleep
hath deadened the driver's ear, and the signals flash through the night in vain, for death is in charge of the clattering train." death was in charge of the clattering train that dark night, but the perseverance, skill, and courage of those firefighters from maine and their brave canadian counterparts could not prevent us from tragedy, but at least contained and controlled it. madam president, this is the best of america. i yield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
if republicans block those votes to will invoke a nuclear option. the meeting is setting the stage a chance for senators to air grievances. as we said earlier, the senate invoked the cloture rule back in 1917 and has made. ♪ changes of the last century, the last time any significant change was 1986. a sense of just how significant this is if changes to take place to the senate filibuster, the so-called a clear option. was it like inside the old senate chamber? here is a look from c-span video library.
♪ ♪ >> i would have enjoyed being in the old senate chamber on the day reopened, and marvel of architecture and engineering, a marvel of the american can-do spirit. if -- it must have been such a startling contrast to everything around it. everything else in the city. the country, most people live in walled cabins. the most incredible temple to
the legislative process with marble columns, imported italian marble, wall-to-wall carpet, luxurious draperies must have been just a stunning sight. >> architecturally the room is spectacular. the art work and it was just wonderful to have. rembrandt just above. 1830 to 1859. george washington rising up into the heavens, sign of -- kind of an image our first president. underneath them the words father of our country. the painting is also known as the porthole portrait because washington is encased in a portable of orlando cleves. above him is the symbolic head of jupiter, of course, just like washington, a godlike figure.
it has been associated with the senate chamber. the eagle and shield above the dais. again, great symbolics of american icon here in the building, in this room, white above where the vice-president would have us presided. >> william henry seward, stephen douglas, hannibal hamlin of maine, daniel webster of massachusetts, john c. calhoun of south carolina and sam houston of texas, and that is just the beginning. this was the very apex of the golden age of the senate. modern visitor comes into the chamber everything had been cleaned. if you were to bring back a senator from the 1819 or 1833, they would probably double over in laughter. it just was not like that at
all. this was like the floor of the stock market merchandise exchange just before the closing bell. [inaudible conversations] it was the only place where people at a place to work. paper everywhere. as senators desk and the senate chamber was his office. there was no other place to go. >> imagine, no electricity, no furnace. and spittoons here as well. >> pristine, cleaned do carpet would not have looked like that for very long. looking at those spittoons in the senate chamber tells you a lot. every senator had as the ten and proudly disregarded trying to hit the spittoon. the result was patterns all over the floor. >> drop his money back. he would not even use gloves to pick it up.
1860, i was not here to see a dirty it was, but i can imagine. all the arguments that led up. >> this was the room where the senate began the senate that we know today. in the senate first moved in here it was a pale reflection of its modern self. rubberstamp for the house of representatives. not a lot of major ideas cannot of this early time, and all the sudden 801920 the major issues before the nation became slavery. a great orators, the great thinkers who were in the house of representatives began to decide the place for them to be is in the senate. ..
not as a massachusetts man, but as an american. ♪ henry clay used to citer in the back -- sit in the back of the senate chamber. people say why didn't he move down toward the front? i think henry clay never wanted to turn his back on any enemies or friends for that matter. clay became ceremony and was able to keep control over the senate. people charged him with being "the dictator." and he said i'm one of a number
of senators. everybody knew he knew as well he was the dictator. whenever he came to the chamber -- he was a dramatic looking man. a serious looking man. he resigned from the vice presidency and a senator. he would come back as a sectionalist. defending his section again antislavery force and people who wanted to change the southern way of life. in the last appearance of the senate chamber he delivered the speech he had written. he had to sit and listen as another senator read it for him. he was dying of turk low sis. the man's life was absorbed in the united states one way or time. it would have been remarkingble to see him in action. the senate of the 1850s was often referred to as a dueling
ground. a brawling pit. contestants came in generally not physically but verbally took on one another. members carried loaded pistol to the chamber. they didn't do it for no reason. they did it because the atmosphere in the senate chamber, and perhaps in the house chamber as was well was explosive. >> it was during the coming period of the civil war in the 1850s when it was really a terrible time in which the members of congress were abiewtioning -- abusing one another. the language that was used. very distinguished senator, elegant, arrogant, educate. wonderful speaker got up and gave this address called "the crime against kansas." in the process of making the
speech, he attacked a few senators verbally including steven douglas of illinois whom he calmed animal not worth much. and andrew butler, a senator from south carolina, who wasn't present in the chamber that day. several days later, a relative of andrew came in to the chamber and beat the living daylights out of charles with his company and nearly killed him. -1856. all of a sudden the forum of deliberate debate turned in to a brawling room. and the civil war was not far behind. while invoked the history of webster it become a shrine to
the members. it's an important based in the capitol. the senators recognize it's important when they come in to the room. they remember there are great senators of the 19th century. the importance is not just thinking about its past but also importance to the current members of the senate. ♪ a look inside the old senate chamber, part of c-span the capitol series which is available on c-span.org. you are looking at the live view from the senate side as lawmaker gather inside the old senate chamber for a rare, closed door-meeting to talk about changes in the filibuster rule. we are getting your comments on
our #c-span supervise supervise brick out the best in both parties as opposed to the worst in each. you can join the conversation at #c-span chat. harry reid took questions laying out his point of view in change to the filibuster rule. ed, thank you for being with us. >> caller: great to be with you. >> in the speech this morning he described reid as defiant. how so? >> caller: the democrats have been egger to make the change for some time and clear throughout the speech he gave the senator of american progress -- [inaudible] this isn't about republicans versus democrats. it's the will of the senate democratic caucus.
egger to change the rules nord to give president obama the nominees he's been asking for. several have been waiting a few years to get full blown conformation from the senate. >> some said if it happens, it would change the senate as an institution. how so? >> caller: well, the idea being if you change this rule regarding executive branch nominations, what is stopping future senate leaders and future senates from secialtly rolling back the super majority requirements on judicial nominees? on actual legislation, on other procedurals moves. and make the senate another house of representatives. it will be smaller, perhaps a little more, you know, deliberative. but still a, you know, several said filibuster exists. the rules exist right now to sort of slow the process to protect the minority party and keep the majority party. it sets the senate on the course for that type of senate.
reid was insistent throughout the day saying it was not designed to be a wholesale change of all votes that are cast by senators only in the specific cases of executive branch nominees. whether they are cabinet secretaries, assistant secretaries, members of commissions and boards, many of whom he continues to point out have been held out for some times. from objections from not just republican, but sometimes democrats. >> have you talked to senate republicans today? >> caller: we have heard from them. as we understand it, there have been some last-minute talks between leaders trying to come up with an agreement that might head it off. apparently one of the officers -- offers was to have president obama wrawl two of the three names of the labor relations board and allow the other nominees to go forward. as far as we can tell the democrats aren't on board with the idea. the white house doesn't appear
to be on board with the idea. there would be -- [inaudible] for just justice here. why the nominees? they were recess appointed by the president in january of 2012, and senate republicans who since successfully challenged those appointments in federal court, in the supreme court now is expected to take up that case and consider the constitutionality of those appointments come the fall. there's a eagerness among democrats to get them on the board and get the process rolling while republicans have been trying to hold it back. as that court challenge advances. >> we have been following the tweets. the white house chief of staff has been on capitol hill. who has he been talking to? what has been happening on that front? >> caller: we spotted him awhile ago. he won't take questions. he's been in close consultations about how things might go down tonight. there are only 100-senators in the old senate chamber tonight. and two staffers. a former secretary for each of
the president. to keep some time and perhaps some notes. they were taking attention as the meeting began. it began at 6:10 p.m. tonight. it's been about a half hour. it could go as short as an hour. ninety minutes. it could go several hours. with cutting some kind of deal. we are perched outside the ohio clock corridor waiting to see if senators start trickling out. we'll do our best to find out what they did. the thought they are meeting behind closed doors is impressive. we understand the white house was in session trying to get a sense with might happen and what might occur behind the doors. >> we have our camera just outside the ohio clock area, give us a sense from what we can tell it seems relatively quiet. people on the smartphones and just waiting for those doors to open again once the closed-door session is over. >> caller: that's how it works. it's a lot of hurry up and
waiting. and biding timing timing in something happens. if you are looking at the camera. i'm a little ways away. that's where the old senate chamber is. that's where senators started trickling. they are walking two by two out of the senator chamber which is to the left side of the careen is. and down the hall, they went in. there appeared to be someone taking attention attendance as they enter. some were joking the kids in the college of cardinals in the vatican it doesn't go too often. we're not drilled -- thrilled they are doing it behind privacy. we prefer your cameras were rolling so we could see the public view. they believe this is a sensitive matter that needs to be doesed, frankly, privately. that's why they decided to do this. >> with e are talking with ed oh kef at "the washington post. we know from our colleague there
are three senators who do not vote in the live quorum, senator menendez, rubio of florida, and shaheen. it means they didn't vote. >> i will tell you who was coming through. now you name the names i don't recall seeing them. it could be they're not here for whatever reason. we'll have to wait and see if they issue an attendance report. and not believe to be a penalty if they don't show up. it shows you how difficult it can be bring the 100 together. the point of comparison the recent vote the senate had where the senators were required to sit at the desk during the immigration reform. lindsay graham was missing until the end. the 100-were only in the same room for a brief period of time. think back a few more weeks when they held an all-senate briefing for the information dominating
the headline regarding the nsa internet and phone tracking programs. in that case, it was held on a thursday afternoon, and in the basement of the capitol visitor center. only 47 senators showed up. it shows you how difficult it can be bring the people together. no matter the gravity of the situation. >> we heard the comment from mitch mcconnell last week criticizing the fact it was happening on a monday night at 6:00. he made an offhand comment making it more difficult for lawmakers to be in attendance? >> caller: yeah. that's because they prefer to hold all sorts of fundraisers and other extra critic already events on monday evening. usually they come back at 5:30 and hold a quick conformation vote on federal judge nominee and break for the night. and doesn't return until 10:00 a.m. tuesday morning. part of the reason it's done that day and senators will land in washington late afternoon early evening.
rush over, and be on the way to other events. because they didn't call the meeting until late last week if presumable that some senators may had plans fund-raiser or campaign events elsewhere and had to reschedule. we adopt know of any specifically. if you are gaming out a senate week, monday evening are used for the type of fefnt necessary. they know the voting schedule is reliability. >> i have an institution question. you use the quote in the piece. we're going show the entire event which runs about 35 minutes in a moment or two. he said the founding fathers wanted up or down vote. it's basically what we have been crying for years. but in term of the institution of the senate, the heated debate in the house of representatives cool things down in the u.s. senate. isn't that what the founded fathers intended? >> your understanding, frankly, i guarantee your viewer's understanding of this is sharper than mine.
i can tell you what he was basically arguing when you look at the constitution it only man dpaits super majority voadz by 60 votes now days or or two-thirds, international treaty, impeachment, and overriding presidential veto. had on every other vote a simple majority is needed. the way he see it is, filibuster, the word, concept it was a rule established by the senate. senators it deem it necessary to change the rules adapt them to what he calls an evolving constitution. a body that has to adapt to the times. and his argument is that it is a change needed. in part because of the part partisan obstruction. >> is the reporter trying to file the story walk us through what you think will happen in term of an announcement from democrats and/or republicans. what are you expecting? >> k we anticipate the coming hours the senators will come the
cameras and announce either a deal or no deal. if there is no deal, leader reid said he will move tomorrow to invoke cloture or perceive the nomination of richard cordray to serve. currently he's curving in the recess appointment. the full conformation vote would allow him to serve of the duration of the obama administration. republicans rejected the nomination on the basis of the fact they don't agree with the district of the agency. and they also were supposedly recess appointed which occurred in january of 2012. so in an effort to make those objections clear, they continue to hold the nomination. if it happens, at some point reid will motion to the presiding officer to make a parliament inquiry of some kind. we'll see if republicans throw up any procedural hurdles. if there's a deal cut or
republicans agree not to object. it will go through. and the issue conceivably would be moot. all of this at this hour is speculative until we hear what happens behind the closed door. >> outside the leadership at oh kef what you've been able to gather today. any other senators playing a key role in the negotiations? >> caller: yeah, i mean, you have senior members of both parties who served on the minority and majority from before trying to keep the younger colleagues from doing it. it's a thing that can haunt you in the future years from your party switches status. we know there are a hand of the -- handful of republicans. folks like johnholden, and bob corker of north dakota and tennessee, and john mccain who appealing to democratic leaders over the weekend to make changes. when the meeting began, weren't yielding any progress. we'll learn more once the
meeting is held. we believe there were significant attempts oprah winfrey the course of of the weekend and today. they have failed. >> ed, standing just outside the old senate chamber. near the ohio clock area of the u.s. capitol. ed, thank thank you very much.. >> caller: any time. if you are just tuning in or listening on c-span radio. we are watching a scene outside. no cameras inside. lawmakers discuss changes to filibuster rule known as nuclear option. harry reid speaking at the center for american province. outlined his grievances toward the republicans blocking a number of -- it's available on our website. it runs just about thirty five minutes. here is senator harry reid earlier today in washington. >> senator, senator, senator.
[inaudible conversations] >> good morning, everyone. i'm the president of the senator for american progress and counselor for the senator of american progress action fund. and i'm here to say it is my distinct honor to welcome senate majority leader reid. we are thrilled to have him here today. the senate majority leader has really balanced interest of the minority and the majority in passing sweeping legislation from dodd-frank to health care reform to the recent immigration reform. but it is the case today that inaction is the norm and action is the exception. that's part of the reason why we're hear today. let me actually start with to
describe someone who was here last week. to discuss the issue of the meaning of the inaction in the senate. we had kathleen here. let me tell you her story. she is a baker. she's a baker from michigan. and she worked for a few years at the bakery, and she didn't have hurps. -- health insurance. her husband had a heart attack, he had essentially, you know, she was basically had to choose between paying for medication and paying her rent. her bakery didn't offer health insurance. it's panera bread. they didn't offer health insurance. she did what you are supposed to. she talked with other bakers, they talked about the challenge of health care and they organized and they went through the whole process and were able to form a union.
she thought at the end of the struggle, which was a struggle, she would be able to get health care. but what happened that the company is fighting the determination in court. while they originally ruled in favor, her case is stuck in limbo because the national labor relations board doesn't have members on it. and the court ruled that essentially until it has members they can't do anything. it's really the case that her courage for conviction might be in vain. but a we cannot get simple action of confirming board members to a part of the government that has responsibilities. it's obviously not just her case. epa, there's wide spread inaction on nominees because a minority in the congress, a minority in the senate refuses to do the basic function of
governing. that's why we are so excited to have senator reid here today to discuss why it's so critical. i have to say that, you know. katherine, the numerous people who rely on federal government to work cannot have a stronger champion that senator reid, who, if any,ing is a fighter for throughout his life. and a fighter for a basic notion that the government should function and work to protect people. key consumer should have a special chance against fighting interest. that's what is at stake today and this week. i'm it is my great honor to have senator reid come to the podium. [applause]
thank you all very much for being here this morning. i know, it's always appropriate to start your presentation by saying something funny. i'm about the most unfunny person you have ever known. i thought i would tell you something that happened to my family not long ago. as you know, i have five children. my youngest boy has four little girls. they are beautiful little children. he was a gifted athlete. he was our entertainment until he was 22 years old, played on three national championship teams, and university of virginia.
he was looking forward to coaching his boys so they could be like him. he's coaching and they are all athletic. but his lovely wife and he decided it would be a good thing if their kids, the four little girls, had some responsibilities around the house. and so they sat down with all four and said okay you're going get this much money every week you have to do -- and outlined what they have to do. help with the dishes, pick up toys, help with the beds, make up the beds, just do a list of things that kids are always required to do. and it went fine for three or four months. el will, the oldest, for awhile just wouldn't do knifing. -- anything. her mom talked about to my son. and she said when you get home you have to have a talk with her. she won't do anything. it's been with that weeks. my son sat down the two of them
alone and started what he thought would be a long conversation with little ella. and he said, your sisters are doing everything they're asked to do. you are basically not carrying your load. why? what is matter? she said dad, i don't need the money. [laughter] i appreciate very much for having an opportunity to visit with each of you for something i have worked on. john, i appreciate very much the work of having this organization. for ten years, neera, you are doing a great job for filling in for john. congress has been extremely unpoplar for a few reasons. one, gridlock. gridlock.
two, not getting thing done. that's really true. we -- when i came to congress -- actually the first time i ran for the senate. we were above 45% approaching 55%. not that way number. last game -- gallop number had us at 10% not going up. going down. why is that? of course, we know we need to pass legislation that does goods things for our country. especially the middle class. flip on c-span, as i know some of you do. what do you see there? the vast majority of the time? nothing. blank screen. quorum calls. we are wasting time hour after hour. day after day i can give you a
picture where we are coming from. me on my caucus. lind data johnson was the majority leader for many years. he had overcome one filibuster. i've been leader about the same time as he has, i don't know the exact number. but it's around 420 fill filibusters. have things changed? they sure have changed. now, everyone knows that under the constitution, we have an responsibility to give advice and consent to the president on the nominations. but all we have for republicans is not advise and consent. we have obstruct and delay. that's really the truth. now, remember my conservative friends talk about the constitution. so let's use that as a frame for my presentation to you here
today. the constitution is very, very specific as to what requires a super majority. vetoes, impoach -- impeachments, treaties, and that same paragraph for the founding fathers talk about supermawrnlgty they mentioned. presidential nominations majority. majority. the founding fathers want an up or down vote. that's what we have been crying now for years. and i believe this whether it's one of the new bushes to be president maybe jeb or maybe a new clinton maybe hillary clinton or maybe even the daughter. whoever is president, they should have the ability. i feel very strongly about
that. many here follow the washington nationals. great we have a team here. i've had a number of opportunities to visit with davey johnson. he's one of the great baseball heroes of all time. played on three or four national championship teams. second basement of baltimore, won a world series, won a pennant. he's now here. he was selected as manager of the year for many times. let assume that this year davey johnson has the team together. he gets a call from major league baseball. they say, davey, i know you worked hard to put the team together. i'm glad to see them. zimmerman is back, he had the surgery, we hope he can throw
better. we know he's been great. you can have him. not until sometime the first part of june. and the contract you signed very recently, you can have him. it's going to be after the all-star. how would that be for his team? multiple it hundreds of times and that's the situation here. republicans have created gridlock, gridlock, gridlock. and it has consequences. it's not only bad for president obama, it's bad for the country. the status quo will work. during the time we have been a country, during the time we have been a country until president barack obama became president, 20 consecutive nominees were
filibustered. during the four years that president obama has been president, he's already had -- i'm sorry he had already had sixteen nominees filibustered. think about that. whey they have done is really just unbelievable and my republican colleagues on meet the press yesterday asked him a logical question. they said what are you going do with janet napolitano's replacement? rather than say, well, we'll move forward on that. he refused to tell david gregory whether or not he would allow an up or down vote. think about that. what they have done is -- american people need to feel that we as a senate are responsive to their challenges. they have carried this to the
extreme. i don't do committee work anymore, but i have sat for hours during committees. during the committee hearings for a nominee. what we do is you ask questions. sometime it is goes for a day or two. sometimes three days or time. it's been traditional there may be one -- you know, could i send you a couple of questions in writing? sure. you'll get the answers back as soon as you can? yes. that has been carry to the extreme. perez, wants to be secretary of labor. put his way through school as a garbage man, hauling garbage. they submitted to him 300 questions in writing. he had respond back in writing. but the champion of this gina mccarthy, long hearing with
us. she had to respond to 1100 questions. 1100 questions. now, my friend the republican leader and others come to the floor and say everything is going great. we approved this person 97-0. one person 98-0. one person 100-0. that's the whole point. there's nothing wrong with the people. there's nothing wrong with the qualification. they simply want to stall what goes on. the people they go vote 97-0 some waited months. we have the folks we talked about today. they have been waiting for more than two years. i have fifteen on the calendar today. their average waiting time has been nine months. did they have an objection against richard cordray his qualification? of course not. cordray was a clerk for a judge.
he was a clerk for justice kennedy. he was the clerk for the state attorney general. they have nothing wrong with his qualification. they don't like his job. they don't like something's job who takes a look for the consumer against the greed that happens on occasion in wall street. codo -- do they have anything personally against them? no. one was senator kennedy's counsel. the other was that attorney for the operating engineers. these are good people. they don't challenge the qualifications. they challenge their jobs. nlrb has been in existence since the great depression. it works. it protects workers. not union workers. workers.
the to to call point has been on the secretary of labor and two nlrb folks. do you think there is something in that message to the american people? we're going do everything we can to make sure business is okay. we're not going make sure that everything is okay with workers. there have been hues and cries what i and my caucus is trying to do is really going hurt the senate. the last eighteen years, i'm sorry the last -- last thirty six years, we have changed the rules by a simple majority eighteen times. i have done it. we always do it. several majority when things don't work. if you look what the changes were, people are trying to be
creating problems. we did this just a little over a year ago. whatted after cloture was a vote on one of the rare occasions to stop the filibuster. some of the republican senators came up with a big idea, cloture is overwith. and they would file motions set aside the rules. well, it took a two-thirds majority. they knew none of what they pasted. they wanted my folks to have to vote on amendments and had nothing to do with the bill that cloture had been a vote on. i put up with this for awhile. two or three of them. i don't remember the exact number. they have fifteen or so. they take a huge amount of time. it was a huge wages of time. we changed the rules and said you can't do it anymore. it was done by a simple majority. that's all we're doing here. it doesn't affect lifetime.
it allows the president to have his team. this president and those in the future. that's the way it should be. my friend, senator mcconnell, this is not mcconnell versus reid. it's my caucus concerned about where this country is headed, but mitch has said -- i'm not making this up. he's the proud guardian of gridlock. those are his words. so i took action last week. of course republicans either allow these people to go through that and stop the filibuster or we have to change the rule. there isn't, as i indicated, an single objection to the qualification of any one of these people. and we need to move forward. we need to stop blocking this present and the future presence from having qualified team he
thinks is what he needs. this is in the constitution. this isn't about democrats versus republicans. it's about making washington work regardless of who is in the white house. i also think that it's clear we should understand the senate is a unique institution. it was created that way by the founding fathers. traditions are important. it's an evolving constitution. it's always been that way. that's why we changed the rules eighteen times over the last three decade. among the traditions is protection for the minority. that's the way it should be. the power of extreme minority threatens the integrity with the institution. as we know, frank lautenberg
passed away very recently. he was a fine man, he loved the senate. gina mccarthy, after her 1100 questions were answered, republicans refused to have a single republican intent. the only way to overcome that all democratic senators had to be there. frank lautenberg was dying. i called bonnie and said we have to have him here. he literally, on the death bed, came down here unohio clock aread the stuff keeping him alive, came down here from t.j., and walked in to make a caucus. everybody was there for the democrats and epa committee. we shouldn't be doing stuff like that. that isn't what it's all about. you can't reward bad behavior over and over and over again.
the first time in the history of the country, they filibustered the secretary of defense. this wild eyed liberal, in nebraska a war hero, literally a war hero who was commended for his heroism, who among other things on the battle field saved his brother's life. i went to his office, when he was here as a senator, he has a picture there of he and his brother on a armored personal carrier in vietnam, and not only that, one of the senators questioned his loyalty to our country in a public hearing they did that. john brennan, filibustered director of the cia.
so my efforts are directed to save the senate from becoming obsolete rendered relevant and effective as an institution. to do that the senate must evolve to meet the challenges of modern day america. this is a moment in history when circumstances dictate the need for change. minor change, no big deal. remember, all we want to do is what the constitution says we should do. filibusters are not part of the constitution. that's something that senators developed on their own to get legislation to pass. it's being used to stop legislation from passing but nominees in a totally different place from where it should be. it's a moment in history where circumstances dictate the need for change. there's time for course correction that compels the two parties to work with each other instead of against each other.
the gravity of the challenges facing our country demands we do what is necessary to save institution of the united states senate. i love the senate, but right now senate is broken and needs to be fixed. i have a vision of the senate that works in the senate that is once again a responsive and advocate for middle class families. it really troubles me when my republican colleagues stand and say but we passed the farm bill. we passed an immigration bill. keep going. keep going. not much else. those are not things we should be saying. i mean, i have -- we are proud of the eight democrats and republicans who worked together to help us find a pathway to immigration. but that's -- what we used to do all the time. that's what we do. comprise is what we're all about.
legislation is the art of comprise. that's what it's all about. so i want the senate to work again with your support i'm prepared to the action necessary to make that happen. thank you very much. [applause] >> i'm going ask a few questions and turn it over to the audience. so you referred, senator reid, the issue of the fact that a lot of these nominees to the national labor relations board to the environmental protection agency. labor these are agencies that protect consumers. and they faced great
opposition. there is also a issue new with the consumer financial protection board over 40 senators basically said they would not confirm. they were opposed to basically any conformation. do you think in some sense what we're facing is a new issue in which the senate minority is using the power of the filibuster to basically nullify the effect of laws themselves? because of the national labor relations board, it's hard to actually get them to operate properly when they don't have nominees or don't have commissioners or directors. >> there a lot of things that have happened since i have been here that have been pushed forward by republican presidents and republican congressmen i didn't like. we have not the ability. we shouldn't have at least just
because we don't like a law we don't fill the position to see if it will work. the dodd-frank, republicans not one of them voted for it. we did it because wall street had ruined temporarily, thank goodness we are making our back but not as much as i would like. they don't like elizabeth warren came up with the idea that we need something to protect the consumers. it's not an outrageous consumer. they don't like it. i believe the consumer niece protection against the wall street. they don't like it. they did everything to stop. it i got a letter from, i can't remember, 44 republican senators, and it's the same issue with health care, with many other and, you know, the
cordray issue is really we solved a big problem because it's so important we protect the consumer. it is we don't have to appropriate the money for that. that also drives them crazy. [laughter] that happens automatically. >> so -- there's obviously a lot of progressives have been pushing for filibuster reform for a long time. broadly speaking, why focus on nominees? and why now essentially? >>. >> because that's now where the big plug is. you can look at many pieces of legislation and look at how the 60 vote threshold can be changed to a lower number. that's something we can deal with later. right now it protects progressive groups and conservative groups. if you look at the gun thing as
an example. the gun legislation i so believe in for background checks to stop people who have serious mental problem and criminals from buying a gun. i believe in it strongly. i didn't believe because they have some -- i'm going to be as nice as i can about this. some crazy absurd rule in idaho and utah you can carry a gun any place you want. i don't think that would be good to fly in to las vegas armed to the hilt because of some law they have in dpoo or fly in to st. louis. women who are concerned about protecting their right with a simple -- i'm not anxious to change that. on judges -- i'm comfortable with our doing what we're doing.
we have we'll see what happens, but i'm very comfortable with where we are now. i'm not trying to spread this to other places. >> all right. solet, i mean, we have a few minute for questions. i think we'll start with the press. if you can identify yourself, and your organization, that would be create. [inaudible] possibly using a simple majority vote. could come fairly soon. you open up yucca mountain for nuclear waste. is that something you are -- >> how silly. i'm answer it but how silly. they are not about fifty vote majority. that is just -- that bothered me about as much as color of your tie today.
which country -- doesn't bother me at all. [inaudible] even if they had a majority they couldn't come up with 51 votes of the issue. >> it's not the issue. if they want to change by a simple majority, more power to them. i think they would be -- we're not going to do it. all -- the sky is falling. as they asked mccull this is a slippery slope. she said that's why they call them slopes. >> senator reid, jeff with abc news. in 2005 you said changing the rules would be a black chapter in the history of the country. it would ruin our country, and you should not be able to wily nilly change the rule of the
senate. isn't it being hypocritical? >> what it is you don't understand the right question. i wasn't talking about changing the rules for nominee. i was talking about changing the rule for judges. a new era. we have now since then as i indicated approximately 420 time we have been filibustered. we have a situation where we are have people waiting on a calendar for nine months to nominees for the we have been waiting for two years. cordray has been waiting for two years. so it's a totally different world we live in. i don't -- of course i wasn't the leader that the time but but anyway that's what i said. here is how i feel now. a different situation. [inaudible] >> are you concerned by putting
them in place the next president comes you'll be able to create a situation where there's no need for any kind of bipartisan cabinet. the fec could be stacked with republicans who are, you know, procampaign finance reform if you are a democrat or democrats were anticampaign finance -- making it difficult for any of the government to function. >> why don't you look at what is going on today rather than have some hypothetical problem in the future. the problem today is that the president of the united states cannot get the people to work for him that he wants. that's what we should focus on. i mean, it's gone so far you -- the first time in the history of the country you filibuster a secretary of defense. instead of submitting as it used to happen six or seven question, you now do 1100. jack lew is one of those. he's secretary of tissue i are. we had to file cloture on him.
let's tawsht the problems of today. not some hypothetical in the future. if people really have concern about that. let them change the constitution. that's what the constitution says that for a presidential nominee it should be a simple majority. it's worked for a long, long time. that's why during the time from george washington to barack obama you only had twenty filibusters of presidential nominations. [inaudible] >> hi, senator. jonathan from the washington "times." you are having the meeting tonight in the old senate chamber. if sounds like a major decision. what is the meeting about tonight? are you open to any kind of comprise that would late some of these or all of these mom nominee go forward with a proviso that the so-called constitutional option be taken off the table now? >> simple solution i mentioned in my remarks.
so easy. if the sky is falling, and they think it's falling, let them. we would have up or down votes on the people and go on to business of the day. that's seems pretty simple to me. it's quite fascinating here. we have having a joinlt caucus. i tried to do that in the past. mcconnell wouldn't let it do it. the only time we have been able to do it i came up with the idea to have john mccain in a closed session talk about the experience. it was stunningly interesting, but we tried the joint caucuses. now no matter what reason there is for having one. i hope sets the tone for the future. i repeat, "the new york times," if they want to stop what is going on, don't filibusters.
don't filibuster cordray. don't filibuster griffin, block, hawk berg, gina mccarthy, perez. that's a good way to stop all of this. >> [inaudible] "the wall street journal." will you open -- you mentioned gun control earlier. are you open to potentially making the change for legislation as well? >> when you come i'm sorry you can't hear all the questions. i have no intent of changing the rules. zero. just like i told this man from the "national journal." the same answer. the same question. the same answer. >> are there questions from the public over here? james bradbury.
if it's supposed to mitigate gridlock in the senate. what other rules would you like to see changed in order to make the senate more effective? >> nothing right now. the senate is an evolving body. we have changed the rules in recent times 18 times. i gave you one example. i gave you other reasons that we changed. same thing as this. somebody gets the bright republican. i don't know if it was a democrat or. the other 17 times something to bring the senate to a stand still like now. and so the rules were changed. i'm sure it will change in the future. other questions? i only have a few more minutes. >> senator, i think another interesting idea has been proposed -- >> tell us where you're from? >> alex from the university of southern california. >> i hope you have a better football team than last year. that was a disaster.
[laughter] that proves you can't buy college football players. [inaudible] you almost make me want to switch to the other party. [laughter] i'm one of the more interesting ideas i see proposed is a shift the burden to the minority to over-- sustain a filibuster rather than the majority to overcome a filibuster. i'm interested in your view. >> udall and berkley suggested that. it's something we can look in the future. it's harder to implement than people think. we have deep tradition here in the senate. maybe sometime in the distant future we can take a look at that. berkeley and udall spent hours and hours working on this. i admire what they have done. remember, i want to say this, young man, to everybody here inspect is not me marching down the road on this. my caucus is supportive of me.
that's where they want to go to change rule. >> i also want to say as a -- i appreciate your remarks. we are time for two more questions. there's a mike coming to you. >> mccobble made clear the recess appointment are you have the vote with the cordray and the procedural vote tomorrow. are there any circumstances you see delays that to have additional talks. how ironclad is a vote tomorrow? >> talks on what? talks on what? talks on what? if they have a proposal, bring it to me. otherwise we'll have -- [inaudible] they have a proposal bring it to me. the easiest way to do away with this is to simply get rid of the filibusters. what logically why with a holdup this is one of the most interesting things. they created these recess appointments. we didn't.
they created them. they wouldn't allow us to have these. what is president obama supposed to do? the nlrp be goes out of business august 1st. it's gone. it's over with. they're using, i've heard it you're doing it illegally. well, it's only happened because of them. the montana wouldn't have recess appointed these people. now with the court when they have done they said you cannot have a recess appointment. basically periods. that's it. maybe they should call him. -- cordray is first. maybe you don't get all seven.
maybe republicans let three go or three within agreement for four. is there wiggle room between seven and zero where it might be averted? secondly, are you supportive or not supportive of a responsible of a gang forming which would care sum vent you on this. would you be supportive of that? gangs have been forming on the finish awhile. my caucus supports where we are. i'm not concerned about gangs. that's a poses say, frankly. [inaudible] is there wiggle room where if mcconnell gives you three or four but not seven? >> no. seven or nothing? >> yeah. their capability, their credential, their integrity. think are doing it because they
are trying to hold up things instruct and delay. this is what is going on around here. we want to make a simple, simple change. as i said it will apply to whoever is the next president. democrat or republican. it will apply to barack obama. they should have a team or -- does that mean they will be approved automatically? of course not. in the past democrats and republicans worked together to stop nominees from going forward. doesn't have to filibuster. >> i think that's unfortunately all the time we have today. thank you so much. senator reid, thank you for being here and for a great discussion this morning. thanks, everybody. [applause] ..
[inaudible conversations] >> senator harry reid making his comments earlier today at the center for american progress as he spoke about changing the filibuster rules. 98 of the 100 senators, we believe only two senators not in attendance, rubio of florida and shaheen of new hampshire meeting inside the old senate chamber in what is being viewed as a last ditch attempt to diffuse tensions. after months of disagreement over how to proceed with the confirmation votes for several of the president's nominees, senator reid has threatened to
use a party-line vote to change the senate rules. you're looking at a live picture just outside the steps of the senate side of the u.s. capitol, and is we're also just outside the doors of the old senate chamber, an area known as the ohio clock. you can see the podium is there. we do expect at some point if there's an announcement, we will hear it from that podium, and we'll bring that to you as it happens. in the meantime, our phone lines are open. 202 is the area code, 585-3880 for democrats, and 202, 585-3881 for republicans. for independents, 202-585-3882. and some of you already weighing in. this is from connie who points out, quote: that the nuclear option will be devastating to the senate no matter which party employs it. ronald is joining us from redford, michigan, democrats' line as the senate meets behind closed tours on the filibuster.
your thoughts. >> yes. the only reason why the republicans are blocking these appointments is because the president of the united states is black. stop fooling around with the republicans. tell it like it is. the only reason why they're doing this, because the president is black. mr. mcconnell is nothing but a racist and a bigot along with john boehner. stop fooling around with them. >> host: beth is joining us from gardenerville, nevada. republican line, good morning. >> caller: hello, yes. i just believe that, first of all, i'm from nevada. senator reid does not represent everybody here, and i just hope and pray that they have some professional and ethical opinions going on behind closed doors because it's awfully tough seeing how he handles some of these issues. and it's nothing to do with the color of the skin and has
everything to do with the character. and how they choose their people who they want to place into positions of leadership in our country. and we have experienced nothing but a downgrade in our government, and it's not fair to those people who really truly believe in our constitution, in our historical judeo-christian values. and this is, they are not being represented in congress or in the state of nevada. it's really sad. and i appreciate the fact that we should not have anything doing nuclear vote, we should not be changing the filibuster rules that have been in place and have worked for us for over 200 years. so i do hope mr. reid will have some, be respectful of his colleagues instead of just calling senator mcconnell mcconnell.
that is downgrading and demeaning to the whole process which is why washington is not worthy of the people, of the people's vote at this time. they are not representing who the people, what the people want. >> host: beth, i'll leave it there. thanks very much for the call. laura has this point, again, the hashtag is c-spanchat. send us a tweet, we'll share some of your thoughts. her point is this: the senate doesn't need new rules, it needs new senators and new leadership. 202 is the area code, 585-3880, our line for democrats, and 202-585-3881 for republicans. we also have a line for independents and longtime capitol hill reporter jamie duh prix has tweeted out that senator rubio's office is in florida because of a family commitment, and chad -- [inaudible] of the fox news channel has also tweeted out that in addition to the senators inside the old senate chamber, there are two other staff members, the majority secretary for the democrats and the minority secretary for the republicans.
michael is joining us next from parlin, new jersey. democrats' line. good evening. >> caller: good evening. my name is michael, and i am very concerned about senator reid in that he is entirely too easy going. he has to take lessons from the republicans in that they are so inconsiderate of anybody except what they want. one of the things that they have to understand and appreciate is the fact that the republicans have lost. the democrats are in the majority. what is the need for having all of the solicitation to get everybody out to vote for democrats to get the majority in the house and/or the senate in order to get a majority? we get a majority, and now the republicans don't like being in the minority, so they do or use whatever shenanigans they can,
and they call it, oh, this has been the historic, and that's the way it is as far as the legislature has been over the years. it's not true. this is totally wrong, and whether it's being picked on because it is a first-time black president or not, there is a reason that the republicans want to continue to step on the democrats, because they're too damn easy. i think it's time that senator reid stood his ground and said, you know, as far as we're concerned do what you want, threaten what you want, but we're going to -- [inaudible] a simple majority does control votes. simple and plain as that. thank you very much. i'm sorry? >> host: i was just going to point out, that's essentially what's being discussed right now on changing the rules, whether or not senate lawmakers want to do that. they've been in session now for about an hour and 20 minutes.
>> caller: i understand. >> host: and another tweet from zack brown who says the democrats may regret this if they lose the majority in the senate come 2014. arthur is joining us from pennsylvania. independent line. your take on all of this, arthur? >> caller: yes, sir. i'll make it quick. >> host: sure. >> caller: i was press secretary to senator hartkey when he fill lu busterred on -- filibustered on the floor. i only have one question. we have a constitutional government. majority wins. that's all. and the rules of the senate don't override the constitution. and i admire mr. reid when he was assistant -- or deputy leader of the democratic party in my day, but i'm 93 years old. we have a constitution to follow. why don't we follow it? that's all i have. >> host: hey, arthur -- >> caller: the constitution talks about majority rule. goes back through france to athens. good-bye, thank you. >> host: stay with me for a minute. you with us, arthur?
you still with us? >> caller: yes, thank you. >> host: when did you work here in washington, what years? >> guest: oh, my, half of my life. i was down there with mr.-- [inaudible] was a friend of mine, i was personal spokesman for railroads, labor unions, whole bunch of stuff. i don't know how to answer you, i guess i started in washington after things i'd done in new york and with the new york times and the associated press. i've been around a long time. more than half a century. >> host: well, there's something that you said that struck me. you talk about the old-fashioned filibusters. has the filibuster changed since what we saw earlier this year when rand paul spoke for 13 hours -- >> caller: the only filibuster in the united states senate that was never made a member, made a part of the press record of the senate was on june 30th, about 1973. and the old rules, the budget
could be stopped. the president of the united states couldn't be paid, nor any soldier as long as he held the floor. look it up. hartkey filibuster, i think it was june 30th, 1943. >> host: okay. thank you for that historical note. and 93 years old, arthur joining us from pennsylvania. appreciate the call. thanks very much. chied is joining us, alexandria, louisiana. republican line, good evening. >> caller: hi. my name is clyde -- [inaudible] i'd like to state my individual preference on this. i'm no big politician or anything hike that. i just -- anything like that. i just think that they should go ahead and keep the filibuster and try not to pick something that -- fix something that's not really broken. i can't get any more technical than that, but the way this government is going these days, the violation of laws that's being done by politicians and everything, i just think they're
getting too much power is what i think anyway. >> host: okay. thanks, clyde. again inside the old senate chamber inside the u.s. capitol, senators are meeting behind closed doors. the issue, changing the filibuster rules. we heard from senator reid earlier today saying he is going to proceed on a series of votes tomorrow and will invoke what is now referred to as the nuclear option if republicans continue to block these nominationsing. and senator reid is also saying that he's going to limit this just to executive nominations that impact -- it doesn't impact judicial nominations, it would also not impact legislation. the other side of the aisle critics wondering if this is a slippery slope, so that's really the debate we've been hearing as we've talked to reporters and former senators on in this. gary has this point: changing the filibuster rules is not okay just because it happened before. i'm sick of majorities dominating minorities. we're getting your comments on all of this. clyde -- we'll go to irv next
from rio vista, california. democrats' line. good evening. >> caller: yes, good evening. thank you for taking the call. >> host: sure. >> caller: in the constitution the majority rules. my problem is what party and at what time did it become the norm to have the 60 votes on anything like the supermajority? when did that come to rule? both parties are guilty of it, but who started it? i mean, the constitution goes way back, and all of a sudden we're in these superrules that seem to be prevalent. >> host: the cloture rule dates back to 1917, so it's almost a century old. >> caller: wow. >> host: and the last time they made a significant change, according to the christian science monitor, was 1986. so that's what makes tonight's meeting so significant, it's rare that they meet behind closed doors, but are doing so really at the request of senator bob corker of tennessee who had asked senator reid and his leadership on the republican side of the aisle to hold this
meeting. again, we're about an hour and 25 minutes into that session. next is harlan joining us also from california, republican line. go ahead, please. >> caller: hello. hey, i just wanted to point out that, you know, we have our check and balance system. it's designed the way it is for a reason. oh, i don't know, you know, how much, you know, you know about his appointments, the certain positions within our department of homeland security and what not which is from the council of american islamic relations care which is an umbrella group for the muslim brotherhood. so, yeah, i don't blame the republicans at all for being a little bit skeptical of this guy who is trying to jam sugar-coated bills down people's throats and put these appointments in that are not congressionally regulated. agencies like the epa or the sec, what not and that, you know, basically what this is,
they're trying to take away our rights, and like we're idiots or something to speak out against him and his decisions and exercise our rights as citizens and our representatives to represent us as is citizens and gently nudge us towards socialism, you know, which all of his other policies and, you know, the liberal party seems to be headed towards. and thank you for your time. >> host: okay. harlan from boulevard, california, thanks so much for joining us. victor has this point, join us on our twitter handle, c-spanchat. we've been asking senator reid to get rid of the filibuster for two years, they've abused it. we have cameras both inside and outside the u.s. senate, and you've been looking at the scene inside one of the ornate hallways, an area known as the ohio clock. those are reporters have gathered as senators walking across the hall from left to right just a short distance to
go inside the historic old senate chamber. closed to cameras. 98 of the 100 senators we believe to be in attendance. we know for certain that senator marco rubio is in florida and senator jean shah lean who did not participate in the roll call vote, senator bob menendez is in attendance, and tomorrow the u.s. senate get a new senator, ed markey, a veteran of the house. first elected back in 1976 winning that special election and so a seat that will stay in democratic hands with the retirement of senator john kerry who is now the secretary of state. that swearing in will take place tomorrow with vice president joe biden. of course, all the attention on what will happen tonight and tomorrow with the expected votes as put forth by senator reid to have these votes on these executive nominations including thomas perez, the president's choice to be the labor secretary and gina mccarthy, the president's pick to be epa director along with the head of the consumer protection labor -- the nlrb and thomas cordray to
head up the consumer protection board that was set up as part of the mccain -- the dodd-frank legislation. senator reid earlier saying republicans are not opposed to the cordray nomination, but they're opposed to that position because they oppose the legislation. ellie is joining us from georgia. independent line. good evening. go ahead, ellie, you're on the air. we'll try one more time for ellie, go ahead, please. >> caller: hi there. thank you for taking my call. it's just very disturbing the way the country is going. it appears as if we are just losing all of our constitutional rights. i think that, um, the hill, everyone up there has just lost touch with reality. i think president obama, the callers previous were referring to him being our black president. he lost a wonderful opportunity to unite the country more so because in actuality he could not have been president if he had not been half white with a white mother. i honestly think they're out of touch, and i don't know that we
can even get it back. when they spend money like they do and don't know how they spend it, when they vote on situations they don't even know what's in the bills. so it's not just one group or the other, it's all of them up there. and the filibuster was established for a reason, to actually bring debate to the floors of our halls and people with ideas and reasons for that, you know? reasons for doing things rather than just what is in it for me. and the other thing is if they really were in tune with the people of america, the routine citizens, they wouldn't have a different insurance. they wouldn't have a different pay for retirement. they wouldn't have their same pay and all the benefits they do themselves. i know when, remember when we had the crash years ago and social security, the older people got nothing, they voted themselves. it's sort of like the fox guarding the henhouse, you know? so, i mean, i don't know that we can ever get it back, what we
had before. i just keeps going down the drain so to speak. >> host: okay, ellie. >> caller: thank you for taking my call, and all we can do is hope. >> host: norm ornstein who is the co-author of "it's worse than it looks," he'll with joining us tomorrow -- he'll be joining us tomorrow. he is a washington scholar, he'll be part of tomorrow's "washington journal" program to explain what happened tonight and potentially what will happen tomorrow in the u.s. senate. and we'll check in with two senators in attendance of this closed-door meetings, they'll be here tomorrow to take your phone calls. independent senator bernie sanders will be joining us at 8:45 eastern time and senator john barrasso, republican of wyoming, at 9:00 eastern time as we focus on what happened tonight tomorrow morning on the "washington journal." mike mcclelland has this, again, the handle is c-spanchat. please keep the filibuster, it protects the minority's rights regardless of the party. it is unique to the senate.
next is dallas joining us from marshall, texas. go ahead, please. >> caller: it's actually rodebuzz, texas. >> host: -- rosebud, texas. >> caller: i wanted to point out to the last person that we're not all a bunch of dumb country bumpkins down here in texas, and most of the bad decisions throughout history were made by republicans. time and time again. they didn't want to fight the nazis to begin with. so if they don't like the way the rules are, they shouldn't have written them that way. >> host: okay. we'll leave it there. thanks for the call from texas. you're looking at a hive scene from the ohio clock, but we'll show you what the scene was like just a few minutes past 6:00 eastern time as lawmakers completed the procedural vote on the senate floor and walked a short distance to the old senate chamber. we'll go to conan who's joining us next from las vegas, republican line. go ahead, please.
conan, you with us? >> caller: hello. >> host: yes, you're on the air. turn the volume down on your set, and go ahead with your comment. >> caller: hi. this is mr.-- [inaudible] from las vegas. ius concerned why the senate under reid has not had a balanced budget, why they keep pushing for all constitutional bills and laws and why the obama administration is has not come out with reid in the senate which control true forms -- two with forms of our government, two departments and why congress does not have the power to have answer about to the irs, to i.c.e., to the area of holder with the ap. all of these areas that we can't seem to get answers to. and yet they proceed to take a racial issue in the united
states and make this where we have over a hundred million people that are brought into the united states, and yet we have a problem with them going after people who want to use their first right to speech. >> host: conan, thanks for the call. you saw just a moment ago senator bernie sanders, and there's senator carl levin. these pictures at 6:10 eastern time. you also saw massachusetts senator mo cow an who's last day is tonight. senator jay rockefeller and senator patty murray, senator casey of pennsylvania all walking in for the session that is still happening at the hour. gary is joining us, independence, missouri. hometown of harry truman. go ahead, gary. >> caller: hello, thanks for taking my call. i think the filibuster is a good thing. the thing that i hope that they
do is they don't let these people, they have to be there when they filibuster. i heard that they can do this without being there and without even having who's doing it. that is wrong. if you're going to filly bust wither something, you need to be there. you need to have your supporters there. the names of the people, where they're from. that all needs to be disclosed. this thing about filibustering g and not having to be there, that's not right. it's not right at all. so i think that needs to be fixed, and i hope they work on that. >> host: thanks for the call. alex bolton of the hill newspaper points out the senate is scheduled to begin voting tomorrow morning on a couple of nominees. the first up will be richard cordray, the president's pick to head up the consumer financial protection bureau. after that democrats will proceed to three nominees for the national labor relations board. also expect votes tomorrow on gina mccarthy to head up the
epa and tom perez, the president's pick to be the labor department secretary. senator tim johnson as he moves into the old senate chamber shortly after 6:00 eastern time. jeff has this point on our twitter page, the handle is c-spanchat: did any of the callers listen to senator reid's speech? it's just the president's nominations. they can stop this by unclogging the senate. joining us next from knoxville, tennessee, on the republican line, your perspective on all of this, tom? >> caller: hey, thank you so much. i was just thinking we really are a constitutional republic. and the people of the united states had the choice between that and a simple majority. the difference being a constitutional republic's supposed to be complicated. it's supposed to be slow, it's supposed to make things hard to happen. george washington didn't lead us in the revolutionary war to trade one tyrant in great
britain for 535 in the united states. so i think people need to just think about that. the filibuster, to me, is what keeps us the complicated, constitutional republic away and out ofty ney -- tyranny. that's all i had to say. >> host: hey, tom, senator reid basically said it's not only the role of the senate to do exactly what you pointed out, but that republicans have created gridlock. in fact, he quoted senator mcconnell saying he is in place to create that gridlock. so how do you define the difference based on what we heard from senator reid and what senator mcconnell has said in the past? >> caller: well, see, i look at gridlock as being wonderful. do we really want government, elitist type people just making decisions and rules all the time? we have a constitution. i think we should do like texas, meet six months every two years. it's just, it's just unnecessary bureaucracy to me, that's all i can respond to that.
>> host: okay. tom, thanks for that. knoxville, tennessee, on the republican line. spencer as has this point: the filibuster is the least of our problems with the senate. their incentives and how they are elected is ten times a bigger problem. john is joining us from davidson, north carolina. democrats' line. good evening. >> caller: hello. thank you for taking my call. >> host: sure. >> caller: just one quick observation. nobody seems to be pointing out that can we trust the republicans if they get the majority to not change the rules right away anyway? they've done that behavior in the house. i just assume that as soon as they have the majority, they'll get rid of the filibuster as soon as they can. and nobody seems to be projecting ahead, we're just talking about what's going on right now. >> host: appreciate the call, john. fred is joining us from wisconsin, our line for independents. welcome to the program. go ahead, fred. >> caller: hey, thanks for taking the call. -- [inaudible] originally from illinois, voted for obama -- [inaudible]
did not vote for him the second time around. harry reid in 2005 was saying -- [inaudible] whether it's gun rights, whether it's anything. even harry reid may as well put quotation marks around the constitution. and it's just kind of sickening. two-party system was to slow things down so that we don't make mistakes as quickly, and i fully agree with -- [inaudible] so that's my opinion on it. >> host: okay. thanks very much for the call. tommy has this point:
eliminating the filibuster will enable the majority to rubber stamp any nominee potus wants. next from salem, oregon, republican line. go ahead, please. >> caller: good evening. as a young government student in college, i follow this with great enthusiastic interest. but i find that so much of it is overly exaggerated. and i followed one of the caller's previous statements about assumptions. the trouble about assuming things, in my opinion, is that they turn out to be wrong. i think that he's having a genuine discussion on the filly buster and it's needed, but these drastically changing rules are so wrong, in by opinion. in my opinion. such as the nuclear option that's been floating around out there. it's just so overly done. i mean, okay, if you get the option to, what are you going to do with it?
it's just, it's so much bluffing that eventually it's going to come to the point where they're going to call each other's bluff, and the gridlock's going to be off the scale. >> host: okay. dakota, thanks for the call. jason weighing in, again, the hashtag c-spanchat: i'm less concerned about altering the filibuster rules and more about changing the rules of immigration, student loans, etc. chad is joining us from shelbyville, tennessee, democrats' line. good evening. >> caller: hi, this is chad. thanks for taking my call tonight. >> host: sure. >> caller: look, the system's broken. congress is not working the way it should for the people. specifically in the senate, you know, when things don't work, they need to be changed. in a democracy, that's going to happen, and that's what needs to happen. there's a 10% approval rating on congress right now. as senator reid said earlier, that used to be 40%. something is wrong, and something needs to be changed.
>> host: okay. chad, thanks for the call. if you're just tuning in, we're about an hour and 45 minutes into a meeting. we talked to senator lott earlier, he expected the closed-door session would run at least two hours, and we're approaching that mark. it is happening behind closed doors which is why our cameras are not inside the old senate chamber. again, the issue is changing the rules of the filibuster, the so-called nuclear option, and much of this came to a head last thursday. let's take you back to the floor of the senate and the exchange between the democratic leader, the majority leader, harry reid of nevada, and the republican leader, the minority leader, mitch mcconnell of kentucky. >> madam president -- >> republican leader. >> madam president, i have a consent that i think would set up these votes in a much more expeditious way than the way the majority leader is proceeding. but first met me just say these are dark days in the history of the senate.
i hate that we have come to this point. we have witnessed the majority leader break his word to the united states senate, and now our request for a joint meeting of all the senators has been sent for monday night, a time when attendance around here is frequently quite spotty. in an obvious effort to keep as many of his members from hearing the concerns and arguments on the other side as possible. it remains our view that for this to be the kind of joint session of the senate that it ought to be given the tendency of the senate to have sparse attendance on monday night, to have this meeting on tuesday before it's too late. having said that, a more expeditious way to accomplish most of what the majority leader is trying to accomplish would be achieved by the following
consent: i ask unanimous consent that on tuesday at 2:15 the senate proceed to consecutive votes on the confirmation of the following nominations. number 104, that's pearce to be a member of the nlrp. number 102, johnson to be a member of the nlrb, and number 103, mr. borrow to be a member of the nlrb. i might just say if those nominees were confirmed coupled with the two nominees illegally appointed, whose illegal appointments turn -- continue til the end of the year, the nlrb would have a full complement of five members and able to conduct its business. i further ask consent that following those votes the senate proceed as a cloture